Free Conference Calls With Skype

Category: Telephony

Does Skype offer a good conference calling experience if you have multiple participants? I know Skype is free, but are there any limitations on conference calls with Skype? Are there other free conference calling services I should check out?

Using Skype for Free Online Conference Calls

Skype, the free Internet phone service, is widely used for person-to-person voice and video calls. But you can also make conference calls between up to 25 persons via Skype. Like other types of calls, conference calls are free between Skype users. But you need to have credits or a subscription to include parties on landline or mobile phones.

To initiate or host a conference call, you will start by building a contact group. In Skype, from the menu bar, select Contacts and then Create New Group. Add contacts to the group by dragging them from your contacts list to the group area. You can add up to 24 contacts to a group, then save the group you just created.
Skype Conference Calls

Click the Call Group button. The screen will change colors and you will hear ringing until the first party answers. As more parties join the conference, icons or images representing each party will appear on screen.

A call bar will appear across the bottom of the screen. You can click its buttons to adjust call volume, mute your microphone, activate video and other functions. To add an incoming call to a conference call, click More on the notification screen, then click Add to Conference. To drop someone from a conference call, mouse over his or her image and click the red icon. You can do this only if you are the host of the call. You can do more than talk on a conference call. You can also send instant messages to individuals, transfer files, and send contacts.

Limitations of Skype For Conference Calling

  • If you're a Skype user, and you don't have a Skype Online Number, then all of your conference call participants must "dial in" through Skype. The solution is to purchase a Skype Online Number, so people can call it from a landline or mobile phone to join your conference call while it is in progress.
  • There is a limit of 25 participants in a Skype conference call.
  • There is a limit of 10 people in a Skype video conference, but this feature is only available with a Skype Premium account.
  • Screen sharing on a conference call is only available with a Skype Premium account.

Free Conference Calling: Other Options

You might also want to look into Google Voice. My article Free Conference Calls With Google Voice has details about the features and limitations of that service. Or check out a handful of other free conference call services in my guide to Free Teleconferencing.

I've read some reports about a Skype for Business version, which supposedly will permit more participants on conference calls, and have additional features. But after going around in circles on the Skype website, it's not clear what the Business version offers. If you can figure it out, let me know!

Have you used Skype for conference calls? Give us your pro's and con's. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Free Conference Calls With Skype"

Posted by:

26 Jan 2012

Walt Mossberg has a new review of something called TelyHd that is used with Skype. The hardware costs about $249 and hooks up to and sits on your HD. He seemed pretty impressed with it. I read it on the AllthingsD website.

Posted by:

26 Jan 2012

I have used Skype conference calling for several years while doing online racing using rFactor/VHR NASCAR racing program. (Located in Nova Scotia, Canada.) We use it for car to car while racing online and have had up to 8 or 10 people on at a time. Our Skype communications have ranged from an hour to several hours at a time. There have been no problems, crystal clear voice at all times. Over several years, dropped calls and "echoing" have been rare. I have used the many other aspects of Skype with equal success, but our conference hookups prove that it does a close to perfect job (for us) in that regard.


Posted by:

Bob Greene
27 Jan 2012

Thanks for that, Duane-- with travel budgets shredded, family jet-togethers limited and the sheer immediacy of HD images and audio, any TeleHD device has huge market promise.

People do not realize Skype also offers Plain Old VOIP service. Priced down where the hoi polloi like me can reach it.

For more, see--

Posted by:

Gary Hipp
27 Jan 2012

No mention of ooVoo? It is far superior to Skype and also has conferencing.

Posted by:

27 Jan 2012

Just had a 90 minute Skype video conference between Chicago and Hamburg, Germany. Frequent buffering and distorted sound made it somewhat of a challenge but, overall it was an acceptable experience.

Posted by:

Dave in Indy
27 Jan 2012

My work uses several commercial bridgeline / conference calling centers. I sometimes work from home and using the "Call phone" feature from Google Mail, I dial into the conferences. The problem is that my old "Labtech" headphone that plugs into the sound card's mic and earphone jack is wearing out. Are there any wireless headphone solutions for the PC for Skype/VOIP? Thanks!

Posted by:

Wendell Rothgeb
28 Jan 2012

Have used Skype video conferencing with my son in Seattle, Wa. from Falling Waters, Wv. for several months and have found the quality of picture is dependent on how busy the broadband is. Sometimes the weather also seems to have an affect on it. I'm using a Logitech Pro 9000 camera with broadband service so your video quality may be affected by the quality of your camera and the service you use. All the advice I have received has indicated that for high definition video you must use broadband service. Subscription is required for more than two people.

Posted by:

31 Jan 2012

nice info, thanx) as for me, i always record my skype calls using this nice tool, i do enjoy it!)

Posted by:

Prasanta Shee
12 Oct 2017

Skype conference calling is good. Additionally, you may try tools like webex, R-HUB web video conferencing servers, gomeetnow, gotomeeting etc. for all your online conferencing needs. They work well.

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